Events,  Marketing

Seven Stages of Attending a Vendor Show

And the Emotional Rollercoaster I put Myself Through Each Time

My business is fairly new and is mostly online (I design books, such as journals and planners). I recently decided to venture out and attend some craft/vendor shows to see if that was a good avenue to increase sales. So far, I have attended four shows and it has been a huge learning experience. I had no idea about the emotional rollercoaster I was in for with this world! Here are my seven stages of attending a vendor show and my inner monologue of the thoughts that run through my head at each point.

Stage 1 – Applying to Attend the Show

Since I’m new to this, I try to be very thoughtful about the shows I apply for. I want to try my best to find shows where the attendees will be interested in my books. If I pick a show that doesn’t align well with my business it will just be a waste of time and money. Since my business is new, I also can’t afford to spend a lot on fees to attend a show. Thankfully, I feel like I’ve managed to successfully pick some great shows to attend and get my feet wet. Once I submit the application, I get really excited about the possibility of attending the show. Then, as I wait to
hear back, I get super nervous.

My Inner Monologue

“What are they looking for in a vendor? Do they like my books? Do they think they will sell? Can I make enough at this show to cover the fee and still make a profit?”

Stage 2 – Planning and Preparing for the Show

As soon as I’m notified that I’ve been picked for a show, the stress and panic start to set in. I’m still new to attending these types of shows, so I don’t have a good handle on how much inventory I should bring with me to each one. I also struggle with which books will sell at each event. At my first event, I sold a bunch of recipe books. For my second, I made sure I had plenty of recipe books and then didn’t sell any. Not a single one! I’m hopeful that as I continue going to shows I will learn more about what attendees are looking to buy.

My Inner Monologue

“I got picked for the show! Yay! They like me, they really like me! Do I have enough inventory? What types of books should I bring?”

As it gets closer to the show, I start wondering if I should redesign my table setup or if a previous one will work. For each of the four shows I’ve attended, I’ve set up my table a different way. I’m still trying to find the one that works best for me and my customers.

My Inner Monologue

“Does my table look inviting for people walking by? Is it easy to see all of my books? What can I
change that will make it look better?”

Stage 3 – Setting Up at the Show

I tend to get anxious and stressed if I’m going to be late getting somewhere. When I’m doing a show, I make sure to get there plenty early so there’s enough time to set up my table. The last thing I want is to be in a rush to set up and then start the show stressed out. I generally overcompensate and end up with a lot of time to sit and twiddle my thumbs before the show. While it’s nice to be set up with plenty of time to spare, I often get nervous just sitting around and waiting. I’m still trying to find the sweet spot where I arrive early enough to get set up and have only a few minutes of calm before the show starts.

My Inner Monologue

“What time do I need to leave to get there? How long will it take to set up? Why did I get here so
early?”

Stage 4 – Attendees Start Arriving

The beginning of the show is generally when I start to second guess all of the decisions I’ve made. My patience dwindles as I wait for the first person to buy something from me. Once I get that first sale though, my confidence starts to rise again.

My Inner Monologue

“The doors have been open 5 minutes, how come no one has bought any of my books? Why did I sign up for this event? I’m going to lose money! Oh yay, someone bought something!”

Stage 5 – Middle of the Show

During the middle of the show, I’m in a great place. I’m generally happy with how many books are selling and I’m starting to relax and feel more comfortable. I love talking to people and hearing their reactions to my books. It’s also great to hear their suggestions for other books I could design. I’ve created quite a few new books based on the feedback I’ve heard from people at shows.

My Inner Monologue

“I’m so glad I signed up for this show! Why didn’t I think to make that type of book before? I need to write this down! This is so much fun!”

Stage 6 – End of the Show

Towards the end of the show, time seems to slow down to a snail’s pace. Most of the people who were going to attend the show have already come and gone. If people were going to buy something, they have generally already done it. This is where my impatience sets in again as I wait for the show to end.

My Inner Monologue

“Where did everyone go? Come back! I am so not looking forward to packing everything up and carrying it to my car! Hurry up, time!”

Stage 7 – After the Show

After the show is where the “real” fun begins. It’s time for some accounting! As much as I hate the accounting portion, I do enjoy looking through my sales records to see which books sold and if there are any sales trends among the various shows I’ve attended. I’m still working on getting the hang of this.

My Inner Monologue

“Did I make money at the show? Was it worth my while to attend? Can I afford to hire an accountant? I can’t believe that book was my bestseller tonight!”

So far, I’ve been happy with my experiences of attending craft/vendor shows. I’ve been profitable at each one (so that is definitely a good thing). But I still need to figure out how these fit into my business model and how much I want to pursue this sales avenue. Do you attend shows with your business? Have you had similar experiences to what I’ve described? It’s ok, you can tell me I’m nuts. It’s something I’ve known for a long time now. Let
me know in the comments what your experiences have been.

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